Joel Iwaskiewicz: A Life Dedicated to Pursuit of Systematic Change

Joel Iwaskiewicz
Rhodes College
2010 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award Recipient

Joel Iwaskiewicz, a 2010 graduate of Rhodes College, currently teaches English and theatre at the high school level. He’s also a fighter for the rights of economically and socially disadvantaged communities, and he says his political activism “has energized and focused my service life.” 

What did receiving the Sullivan Award mean to you?
I was surprised and humbled to receive the Sullivan Award during my graduation ceremony. As a Bonner Scholar at Rhodes College, my undergraduate career was defined by service leadership, and it meant the world to be recognized for that commitment to the beautiful communities I had the privilege to work with on campus and throughout Memphis.

Tell us about your career and what you do now?
I am a high school English teacher and theatre educator in New Hampshire. I didn’t anticipate heading down this path, but now I couldn’t imagine things turning out any other way. My life has been shaped by the kindness, wisdom and enthusiasm of teachers. I hope I might impact my own students in a similar way.

Are you involved with any community service or community outreach today?
I volunteer regularly in support of progressive political campaigns at the local, state and national levels. Engaging in political activism has energized and focused my service life. In pursuit of systemic change, I am able to engage with the systems I believe can have the greatest impact in the pursuit of justice.

The Sullivan Foundation promotes positive social change in its programming and overall message. What are some social issues that matter most to you today?
I’m passionate about anti-racism and anti-bias work, racial justice, environmental justice, and civil and human rights, particularly among BIPOC and the LGBTQ+ communities.

If pressed to give one piece of advice to younger people, what would you tell them?
Invest your time, money and energy in the causes that wake you up in the morning and keep you up at night. Where your passion is engaged, your work will have the most meaning and motivation.

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